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Sunday, 16 February 2014

Nagasaki Trip (A sort-of guide)

I just came back from four days of travelling - two days in Nagasaki and two days in Kumamoto. So, as I always do after every trip, here's a recap.

Basically, I went to Nagasaki for the Lantern Festival. And because part of my reason for living in Kyushu is to re-visit all the places that I went for my ROCS3 (Reality Outside Classroom) trip. And yes, Nagasaki was one of those places.

Hazel and I went there on this really cheap package. A two-way ticket plus one night at a hotel was 8200 yen per person. It's part of the package for the Nagasaki Lantern Festival, so I have no idea if this is available all year round.

First things first, how to get around. We took a one day tram pass for 600 yen. One trip is 120 yen, so if you're going to make 5 or more trips, you should definitely get the pass. The pass is available from the omiyage shop opposite Nagasaki Station. Just take the overhead bridge to the building opposite.

One good thing about the pass is that it comes with a few benefits, like discounts or one free xiao long bao (more on that later).

Cute tram. At least, I think it's cute. 
The first place we visited was the Nagasaki Peace Park.

I'm not sure if they made the rainbow on purpose. 
The biggest feature of this park is the statue, which has a few meanings. Let me see if I get it right. The hand pointing up is pointing to the threat of nuclear weapons, the hand parallel to the group (incidentally pointing at Urakami Church, which was very near the epicentre of the bomb). The leg that is sitting cross-legged signifies meditation, and the leg that looks like it's going to stand up shows that it's ready to take action.

*goes to check*

Yup, more or less right. Here's the statue:

After the peace park, we intended to visit the Atomic Bomb Museum, but got diverted to Urakami Church.

It was rebuilt after the atomic bomb destruction. Good if you're into architecture.

The Atomic Bomb Museum was sobering. That's really the only word for it. Apart from showing the devastating effects of the bomb, there are video and written testimonies from survivors, and they are heartbreaking. If you ever go to Nagasaki, you have to visit this place. Even if you're on a trip for fun and not for education, I think this is an essential location to visit. We need peace, not war.

After spending the morning being reflective, we headed over to Chinatown for lunch, mostly because an advertisement in our tram pass mentioned xiao long bao, and we both miss Chinese food.

This is the restaurant name. It probably stands for
"Chinese Delicatessen" 
The xiao long bao was fried/grilled, but it was so good. There was actual soup inside too, so it passes the test of being "xiao long bao".

The white-ish ones are normal flavoured, and the
pink-ish/orangey ones are seafood, which mean that it tasted
like har gao (a type of prawn dimsum)
The rest of the day was basically exploring Chinatown before heading back to check in at the hotel.

Evening/night was Lantern Festival time! Before that though, we went to Glover Garden (though we didn't go in, because they closed two minutes before sunset) and Oura Church. Panorama photos to come. UPDATE: Panorama photos embedded at the bottom of this post.

Oh and dinner. Dinner was at the restaurant that invented Chanpon. Hazel had the original Chanpon, and I had saraudon, which is crispy noodles covered in delicious vegetables (yes, I said vegetables, be amazed).

Ok, now for the Lantern Festival. It was tiring, because we walked and walked and walked, but really pretty.

Chinatown at night. 
And the best part was finding a Fujian community...hall? I'm not sure, but it's for Fujian people, and since Hokkien is a dialect originating from Fujian, I was really surprised and weirdly happy to see that I had ancestors that immigrated here.

It didn't have that many lanterns, but it was still pretty pretty. Actually, I think it may be a shrine.

And so, although we didn't realise it at that time, we went back to the hotel with tired legs.

The next morning, we had until 3.30ish pm. We did consider going to Gunkanjima, the island where they shot part of Skyfall, but the only boats were at 9am (too early) or 1pm (too late). So instead, we went to the 26 Martyrs Monument and Museum, which was a place to commemorate the 26 Martyrs who died for Christ. I learnt that the youngest was only 12, and was actually offered a reprieve if he would apostatise. He refused to do so. I do wonder if I'll be as brave if something like that happened to me.

If you're like me, and have an interest in the kakure kirishitan and the persecution of the Japanese Church in the Tokugawa era, you'll adore the museum. It's really informative, and they tell you about the history, why Christianity was banned, who were the leading figures, and so on. I only wish that I visited this place earlier, because my EE would definite;y have benefited from it.

Outside the museum, we saw a few adorable cats and I took quite a few pictures. I'll end this post with them, so you can coo over them.

According to Raychely, this looks like an "adorable coffee marshmallow"
Adorable :D 
My next post will be about my trip to Aso-farmland, and since there was a petting zoo there, there will be more cute animals.

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